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Ireland bidding to stop French fluency at source with pack physicality

Tom Tierney’s team selection paves the way for a serious battle in UCD tomorrow evening.

Maz Reilly returns to the pack to secure the line-out.
Maz Reilly returns to the pack to secure the line-out.
Image: Gary Carr/INPHO

IRELAND HEAD COACH Tom Tierney promises a performance packed with physicality when Ireland meet France for the right to advance as Pool C winners in the WRWC in UCD tomorrow.

While the hosts have had to dig deep to come from behind to secure wins over Australia and Japan over the past week, France have steam-rolled the same opposition, racking up 120 points in the process.

So with the logic and numbers weighed against Ireland, Tierney has selected a robust pack with Leah Lyons coming in at hooker, the powerful Ciara Griffin retained at blindside and Paula Fitzpatrick switched back from second row to number eight to allow Sophie Spence operate the engine room from the start.

If the intent wasn’t already clear, Tierney made it abundantly so after his squad went through their Captain’s Run today.

“It’s going to be a very physical game,” says the head coach.

“The girls are well aware of that. We have to try and impose ourselves on the French and stop them at source. We’re confident that if we can get the first 10-15 minutes under our belt and get ourselves in the game then we’ll be in a good place.”

France, of course, are familiar opposition for Ireland and a victory over Les Bleus will be fresh in the memory for the coach and his squad, particularly the pack who are unchanged from the eight who scraped a 13 -10 win over tomorrow’s opponent in their February Six Nations clash in Donnybrook.

“Any of the games we’ve been involved in have been very close affairs and it’s going to be a very physical battle. We’ll take a few things from the Six Nations, but it’s a totally different tournament.

The matches down through the years have always been close, so we’re trying to make it into a tough hard game for the French.”

“The French are in flying form. They’re arguably the team of the tournament so far in the way they’ve played.

“As long as we get ourselves organised, play in the right areas of the field, there’s a physicality to our game, a real purpose playing quality cup final rugby.”

Heather O'Brien Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

After some sluggish and error-ridden displays against Australia and Japan, Ireland have just about kept the semi-final stages of their home World Cup within reach, but tomorrow it will be time to grab a berth in the final four or wave it goodbye for four years.

“We got the wake-up calls we needed in the first two games, which is fine in a tournament like this, and now we’ll build it up as a cup final.


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“We’re really focused on playing a game that will hopefully put a lot of pressure on the French. They’ve put up well over 100 points so we’re under illusions that if we let them play, we’ll be under pressure.

“We have a plan in place that we can hopefully play a bit of territory, put them under pressure and take it from there.”

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